RE@L Commentary on: "Why Do We Separate the Teacher From the Tech?" by Tom Whitby

RE@L logo_Corp_color_RGB-high-REZWhitby2Tom Whitby is a prolific K12, Higher-Ed blogger on his popular WordPress page “My Island View”. Tom has taught K12 for 34 years and in Higher-Ed for 6 years. He is the founder of EDU PLN, a resource for Professional Learning Networks.

Mr. Whitby has a vast following, particularly among K12 educators, with over 60,000 followers on his Twitter page where he monitors much of #edchat. In short, he’s connected and his many resources are worth a read.

His most recent blog asks: Why do we separate teachers from EdTech training at the same time we ask them to use it?

A very fine question, indeed. Why do we separate teachers from the EdTech that they and their students really need? You can’t have one without the other!

RE@L would like to comment on several of the points Mr. Whitby makes, all worthy of our reflection and resolution to do something about. Sorry for the grammar, but you will get our point. Here are some of his topic sentences, along our commentaries.

•   “The greatest influence on students in the classroom is the teacher. That holds true with or without technology in the classroom.”

RE@L Response: Indeed it is the teacher at the helm of the Ship of Learning, whether he or she uses dead-reckoning, the sextant, the stars or GPS.

Unknown-1•   “Whenever I read an article, or post, pointing out the failures of technology in the classroom, my first question is: How well was that teacher trained in the use of that technology and its new methodology in the classroom?”

RE@L Response: Not well! Both Higher-Ed and K12 Professional Development make a meager effort to instill some effective uses of EdTech into teachers, but the results are far, far from satisfactory.


images•   “Adding technology into a curriculum is not a passive exercise.”

RE@L Response: Aye, there’s the rub. How can we provide teachers with more active, hands-on work with EdTech so it can be used effectively in the classroom. School districts are purchasing billions of dollars worth of new mobile tech devices. iPads are sometimes purchased without a specific comprehensive plan for use in the classroom.  The key questions are: what to do with them and how does the plan fit curriculum goals.



•   “We need to be more critical of the studies that we see on the use of technology in classrooms.”

RE@L Response: Indeed! We are suspicious of all so-called studies of EdTech Integration as they rarely meet the requirements of study from which sound conclusions can be drawn, not the least of which is extrapolating the so-called “results” from one classroom or school to another. Beware thinking that what works in one setting will work in another.


Unknown•   “If we are serious about better educating our kids, then we better get more serious about educating their educators.”

RE@L Response: More time is needed to help teachers teach better with tech. Where can we find more time or how could we use it better? Online Professional Networks help. Facebook Groups are a great way for teachers to connect with Q’s & A’s. So is Twitter. So are TED Talks, Professional Conferences, Skype Buddies, Email Friends, the teacher lounge, workshops, courses. More time needs to be carved out of the School Calendar for teacher tech training. How about a few days in June and a few days in August?

This much we know: It won’t get better until we all help make it get better.

Post your suggestions by clicking on the Comments below.


Thanks, Tom Whitby, for your Call to Action to help teachers in K12 EdTech.

Let’s muster some action out there, folks. It can’t change unless we ALL help change it. As Tom so wisely put it: “If we are serious about better educating our kids, then we better get more serious about educating their educators.”

For more information on Tom Whitby, here’s an interesting video by him on the uses of Social Networks to better teacher understandings of K12 EdTech:

Tom also hosts a Personal Learning Network for Teachers at:

You can read his entire recent blog on, “My Island View” at:  


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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.